Local company DECKED has created a product that appeals to many of the kinds of people who call Ketchum home: outdoors people, tradesmen/contractors, and just about anyone who drives a truck. It was while innovating a way to organize a truck bed that DECKED founders, Jake Peters and Lance Meller, came up with the idea for DECKED’s drawer system, tapping into the market of truck accessories that few had or have since. In its almost ten years as a company, DECKED has grown from a small-footprint, servicing mom and pop accessory stores, to a multi-national company available directly from manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet distributed into 27 countries on six continents.
The Origin Story
Like the origin of so many products, DECKED’s drawer system was the result of necessity. Ketchum local Lance Meller was a snowboard rep and pickup truck owner who built his own plywood drawer system for the bed of his truck, which allowed him to sleep in it while on the road while also storing his snowboard samples. After getting a new truck, Meller realized he would have to build another system from scratch, with no real roadmap for doing so. He partnered with DECKED founder, Jake Peters, and they decided to productize the idea, beginning the yearslong process of figuring out the product characteristics, where they would make it, and what it would be made of. They knew a few requirements off the bat: it needed to have a 2,000-pound payload (since that’s what the bed of a truck has), should weigh about 200 pounds so as not to add too much weight to the bed, needs to be water- and weatherproof, needs to be securable, and needs to cost about $1,000.
After figuring out that they needed some engineering help, Peters and his partners went to Detroit to Altair Engineering and spent almost two years figuring out the injection-molded, lightweight, durable, recycled material drawers that would become DECKED’s flagship product, the Drawer System.
With the product built, next was getting the product to consumers. Marketing plans pivoted several times, as originally it was thought that truck dealerships would be the primary sellers of the Drawer System, which didn’t pan out. They quickly pivoted to truck accessory dealers, which proved to be a more viable channel. When VP of Marketing, Greg Randolph, joined in 2015, DECKED started to really focus on direct-to-consumer marketing, which now comprises roughly half of their sales. Since then, DECKED has only increased its visibility and demand; in a country that sells three million trucks a year, there are yet to be any real competitors to that core product, the Drawer System that DECKED has become known for.
DECKED has grown from a group of about four employees in 2014 when it started to 150 nationally, split between their three facilities: a production facility in Defiance, Ohio; a manufacturing facility in St. George, Utah; and its headquarters here in Ketchum. Located in the industrial area, just behind Bigwood Bread, DECKED headquarters employees roughly 32 people locally (it’s hard to keep count with the company constantly hiring) in the areas of customer service, sales, marketing, product development, and finance. While active recruiting is a contributor to DECKED’s growing local workforce, so is the positive work culture, which the company places a focus on. “Ketchum attracts a really interesting mix of intelligent, capable people who love the outdoors,” says Randolph. “We’ve been able to build a culture of fun, dedicated, and incredibly smart people. Working here you can have the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of while still making sure your mom’s proud of you. There is something really special about being in business in Wood River Valley.”
DECKED makes three core products: their Drawer System, CargoGlide (a company they acquired a little over a year ago), and their truck bed Tool Box. The Drawer System is the OG product and adds innovative organization to your truck bed in the form of two drawers that hold 200 pounds. Just as DECKED strives for their products to make your life easier, the setup is easy as well. Order a DECKED drawer system, and you can have it set up in your truck using just a few tools in a few hours.
CargoGlide is another life-simplifying tool in their arsenal. The CargoGlide allows the whole truck bed to slide out, meaning you won’t have to jump into the bed of your truck to get items anymore. It’s available without or without their Drawer System and has the same payload as the bed of your truck.
Their third product is a waterproof, impossible-to-dent crossover-style toolbox with a telescoping ladder that allows you to store your tools and gear but still allows you to reach things in the truck’s bed.
DECKED claims it’s still just a tiny part of the larger truck market, meaning the company’s future is bright. Plans include creating more awareness to drive demand and expanding the total available market, i.e., looking at other ways to address other types of vehicles, whether through core products like the Drawer System or accessories. There are also some new markets to tap into like international sales and fleet commercial vehicles, both of which are on the horizon for DECKED.